By Gurpreet Singh
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the murder of a temple keeper at the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara near the Surrey-Delta border. Nirmal Singh Gill was attacked by white supremacists on January 4,1998. More than two decades later, the president of the same place of worship was assassinated right at the back entrance of the gurdwara on June 18.
This past Sunday (October 29), a documentary on Gill’s murder was shown as part of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside Heart of the City Festival. The filmmaker, anti-racism activist Imtiaz Popat, called for a moment of silence for Hardeep Singh Nijjar, as well as for thousands of Palestinians being killed by Israeli aggression.
Whereas, those involved in Gill’s murder were convicted and found to have been driven by far-right anti-immigrant ideology, the killers of Nijjar are still at large and their motive remains unestablished.
Nevertheless, the prime minister of Canada believes that the Indian agencies could be complicit. After all, Nijjar was wanted by the Indian government for being associated with the movement for a separate Sikh state of Khalistan to be carved out of north India. Indian officials continued to ask for his extradition, citing allegations of his involvement in terror-related violence.
But none of those accusations have been proven in court. In contrast, the human rights record of India remains very problematic.
Under these circumstances, Nijjar had received death threats. A month before his killing, he had even told me on air at Spice Radio—where I work as a broadcaster—that he might be targeted by Indian agents. A petition asking for the investigation into a possible foreign hand in his murder has received massive support.
RSS and white supremacist ideology
After Justin Trudeau finally dropped his bombshell comments in the House of Commons, India reacted sharply. So much so that hawkish commentators who are aligned with the right-wing Hindu nationalist BJP government in New Delhi went to the extent of justifying his murder.
For the record, the BJP is a political arm of the Hindu cultural outfit, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), whose founders glorified Hitler and gave legitimacy to the Jewish Holocaust by saying that Nazis had a lesson for India in showing Muslims their place. It shouldn’t surprise anyone why attacks on religious minorities have grown under the BJP government.
Let the courts decide who is guilty in Nijjar’s murder, but circumstances raise the possibility of linking his death with people who are in power in India. And there is little doubt that their party’s origins were partly inspired by white or Aryan supremacy, which led to the brutal death of Gill at the same gurdwara 25 years before.
Incidentally, when a special event was held in memory of Gill at the gurdwara early this year, nobody anticipated that Nijjar, who was also in attendance, was going to meet a tragic end in the coming months. It is pertinent to mention that Nijjar had personally installed the portrait of Gill in January 2022 at the seniors’ centre inside the gurdwara, which is next to the gate where he was shot and killed as he was heading home to spend Father’s Day with his family.